Japanese Plum Perfection #JapanTravel #ValentineCake

Spring air –
woven moon
and plum sweet

Follow the plum blossom trail in Japan. The five-petaled flower reveals a controversial history. Before the birth of the celebrated cherry blossom parties in Japan, plum blossom viewing soirees were in vogue. With the death of Emperor Uda, however, the revered Japanese plum blossom settled to second place.

More Japanese songs and poetry star Japan’s cherry blossoms. But, the plum blossoms hold center stage in February and March. Northeast of Tokyo, in Mito (Ibaraki Prefecture) the Kairakuen Garden boasts 3000 plum blossom trees. A festival showcasing the beauties is held from late February to March. Tokyo, Kyoto and Kyushu also have famous spots for plum blossom viewing.

Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture:
Kairakuen Garden (Kanto Region)
Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolis (Kanto Region):
Koshikawa Korakuen, Yushima Tenjin Shrine, Hanegi Park
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture (Kansai Region):
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
Kyushu (A Southern island of Japan):
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

The delicate cherry blossom petals are poetic perfection. However, plum blossoms exude a sweet fragrance and produce ume (plum) fruits. The ume makes for delightful plum pickles, sweets and wine.

If you are heading to Japan to sample the beautiful sights and scents of the plum blossom, make sure to check out 10 Things You Need to Know Before Flying to Japan.

To highlight the delights of the plum blossom, I baked mini Valentine cakes. I swirled plum wine together with chocolate. The cake is light and lovely. Drizzles of spiky plum wine frosting and rich melted chocolate makes for a divine dessert. (Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not!) 

Japanese Plum Wine and Chocolate Swirl Cake

Valentine-Japanese-Plum-Wine-Chocolate-Marble-Cake-NINJABAKER recipe.jpg

Inspired by and adapted from a lovely April J. Harris recipe. April's cakes are always perfect for an authentic English afternoon tea. This Chocolate and Japanese Plum Wine Swirl Cake (adapted from April’s Chocolate Orange Marble Cake) is no exception.

Light, buttery with a tender crumb, Japanese Plum Wine Swirl Cake is light and buttery with a tender crumb. In addition to English tea, Japanese matcha green tea works well the cake, too. So does a glass of Japanese plum wine! 

  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1½ cups cake flour
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 5 to 6  tablespoons Japanese plum wine
  • (1 for pink plum blossom batter, 2 for chocolate batter, 2 to 3 tablespoons for icing)
  • pink food coloring
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup of dark chocolate kisses or bits
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° Line a loaf pan (9 x5 x 2½) or 4 Valentine heart cakelet pans with parchment paper. Coat the papered pans with baking spray. 

In a kitchen stand mixer bowl, beat the butter until fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs.
Pour in the sugar. Beat for 4 to 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Stir into the kitchen stand bowl mixer. Combine well.

Divide the batter into two clean bowls. Beat 1 tablespoon of the Japanese plum wine and pink coloring into one bowl. Sift the cocoa powder into the other bowl. Beat in the other 2 tablespoons of plum wine.

Alternate spoonfuls of the batters into the prepared loaf pan or Valentine heart cakelet pans.

Bake in the preheated 350° oven. 45 to 55 minutes for the loaf pan. 35 to 37 minutes for the Valentine heart cakelet pans. Or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler pan or in a microwave at 30 second intervals. Drizzle over the cake(s.) Let the chocolate set on the cake(s.)

Whisk together the powdered sugar and Japanese plum wine. Scatter the Japanese plum wine icing over the cake(s) with a small whisk or fork. (It’s your opportunity to feel like a Picasso!)

Wishing you flowers, cakes and all things sweet on Valentine’s Day and always!

The Ninja Baker

© ™ Watkinson 2012

The Ninja Baker has guest blogged and contributed recipes to numerous food sites. These additional recipes can be found here.



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